Finance directors ignoring the basics

Just one per cent of more than 400 global senior executives told the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants’ survey that customer focus ranked as a key issue when drawing up corporate business plans, Accountancy Age magazine reported today.

Shareholders are also sidelined by corporate decision makers, according to the survey, with a mere three per cent of boardrooms rating their demands as a key factor for their future success.

Global companies instead ranked their own corporate needs above those of their customers and shareholders, with 50% ranking the battle to find and retain quality managers as the most important issue.

A further one in five companies believe the speed of change in which they operate will be the most crucial influence on their future, while eight per cent rated intellectual capital.

The internet revolution was also overlooked by the majority of executives from the UK, USA, Europe and Asia, with only six per cent recognising e-business as the greatest single impact over the next decade.

Top level UK senior executives, invited by CIMA this Tuesday to debate the survey, expressed surprise that customers and shareholders figured so low in business plans.

CIMA commissioned market researchers to carry out the Success Beyond 2005 survey as part of the institute’s Global Business Management event that took place this week.

FDs formed the largest group of the 140 senior executives surveyed. Qualified accountants made up 17%.

‘I find these results very surprising,’ CIMA president Mike Jeans said.

‘Business people spend a lot of time dealing with customer issues and I would not take these figures as absolute measures.’

David Phillips, a value reporting expert from PricewaterhouseCoopers, said he was ‘surprised’ and said other research had shown FDs ranked customer focus highly.

But John Chester, chief executive of CIMA, added: ‘In an increasingly competitive and, indeed, litigious world, businesses might be well advised to re-think priorities.’

This year CIMA has revamped its qualifications and services in a bid to ‘turn itself inside out as a customer focused institute.’ e-business site

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